Wood's Fumble Recovery Proves To Be Aggie Heartbreaker

Nov. 30, 2002

Final Stats

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KINGSVILLE, Texas --- Linebacker and reserve tight end J.R. Wood recovered quarterback Abel Gonzalez's fumble in the end zone in the first overtime period to lift Texas A&M-Kingsville to a 27-20 win over UC Davis in the NCAA Division II football quarterfinal game at Javelina Stadium in front of 11,500 fans Saturday.

Attempting to convert from six yards out, Gonzalez lost the ball on a keeper at the one-yard line. Both teams scrambled for the loose ball, but Wood was there at the bottom of the pile. The Aggies could not match the touchdown in their portion of the overtime period.

UC Davis ends its season at 9-3. TAMUK improves to 10-2 and will face Valdosta State (Ga.) in next Saturday's semifinal game.

"It's a shame that we fell short, but the guys should hold their heads up high," said Aggie head coach Bob Biggs. "We never gave up. It's been the story of this team all year. People believed this would be a rebuilding year.

"Kingsville is a great defensive team. They put a lot of pressure and it takes you out of what you want to do. They made some plays, then we made some plays. We moved the ball well -- we just made two key mistakes."

UC Davis made a valiant comeback at the end of regulation to force the overtime period. Holding a 20-17 lead, Kingsville took over on the Aggie 40-yard line with 4:46 remaining. Gonzalez rushed the ball to the Aggie 12 to set up in the red zone, but UC Davis held off the threat with a goal-line stand at the one-yard line. The Javelinas took a four-yard illegal shift penalty to move back to the 7-yard line, and was unable to convert on the ensuing fourth-down situation. Kwamin Taylor knocked away a pass attempt to Gary Lusk, and the Aggies had the ball deep in their territory with 1:09 remaining.



With just over a minute remaining, Matt Massari took Flanigan's screen pass 49 yards to the Kingsville 35, then Joe Bandel's 17-yard reception put UC Davis within field-goal range. Dusty Apocotos hit his second field goal of the game -- this time a 35-yarder -- to tie the game and force the overtime period.

Massari, who had sat out the previous week's game with a thigh contusion, finished the game with 70 yards rushing on 22 carries and four catches for 61 yards. Flanigan completed 25 of 45 for a career-high 381 yards and two touchdowns, both to senior wideout Michael Oliva.

Ryan Flanigan, shown here against Abilene Christian, threw for a career-high 381 yards against TAMUK's tough defensive secondary. Photo by Wayne Tilcock, Davis Enterprise

Oliva, who had set an NCAA record with 233 receiving yards in last year's matchup between the two teams, went for 11 catches and 167 yards. Teammate Joe Bandel also surpassed the century mark in receiving, posting five catches for 107 yards.

Gonzalez produced 137 net rushing yards and was 12-for-22 for 150 yards in the air. Running back Larry Williams matched that rushing total as TAMUK rolled up 287 yards on the ground for the game.

UC Davis had opened the contest with an efficient drive, with a 15-yard reception by Oliva capping an 11-play, 80-yard drive. Flanigan was 5-for-5 for 70 passing yards during that drive, giving the Aggies an early 7-0 lead in the only scoring play of the first quarter. Oliva pulled in a 52-yard pass from Flanigan on the next UC Davis series, vaulting him past Charley Enos as the school's career leader in receiving yards.

TAMUK had an opportunity to get on the scoreboard in the opening play of the second quarter when Flanigan was sacked in his own end zone. But the Javelinas were slapped with their first facemask call of the game, nullifying the safety.

Kingsville tied the game up midway in the second quarter when head coach Richard Cundiff opted to convert a fourth-down conversion on the Aggie 6-yard line. Williams broke through the line and contined across the goalline, tying the game 7-7. The Javelinas then took the lead less than four minutes later when Gonzalez recovered from a Ryan Cacanando sack to fire a 41-yard pass to Ryan Woodard.

However, the penalties that have plagued TAMUK in the past proved costly in the final minutes of the first half. A facemask call and a roughing-the-passer violation helped UC Davis move quickly into the Javelina red zone for a first down on the TAMUK 13. Oliva hauled in Flanigan's pass, tipped and bobbled the ball three times, then wrapped it up for the game-tying touchdown. The teams headed into halftime in a 14-14 tie.

The Javelinas regained the lead in the third quarter when Curtis Tyler's sack of Flanigan jarred the ball loose. Defensive back Tracy James scooped up the fumble and returned it 75 yards for a touchdown. Hammond's kick sailed wide right, but TAMUK took a 20-14 lead. Late in that quarter, Bandel took advantage of a downfield block by Kevin Freeman, moving the ball deep into Javelina territory. That hookup set up a 43-yard field goal by Apocotos, one yard short of his career's longest try, cutting the lead to 20-17.

This was the sixth meeting between the two teams, all of which have been in the postseason. UC Davis had won all three previous contests at Javelina Stadium while TAMUK had claimed two victories at Toomey Field.